March 14, 1981
It’s action stations for the Anfield team behind the scenes.
It’s 7:30 on Saturday evening. The Anfield pitch scarred after the reserve match that afternoon, has had first-aid from Arthur Riley and his ground staff. Bert Johnson, the maintenance manager, makes a final check that everything is secure. The floodlights go out.
Two hundred miles away, on Platform 13 of Euston Station, the members of the most famous team in Europe are crowding into the restaurant car on their train back to Liverpool. They have only drawn 2-2 at relegation-haunted Brighton and no-one is expecting champagne.
A week has ended. Another one starts …
Sunday is a day off at Anfield – but not for manager Bob Paisley and his aides.
But half-past ten Paisley is at his desk dealing with some of the paperwork that has accumulated. In the treatment room Joe Fagan is treating four players who are nursing injuries – Phil Thompson, Alan Hansen, Alan Kennedy and David Fairclough. Ronnie Moran and reserve coach Roy Evans are also at the ground, checking on kit requirements for the coming week.
At 12:30, when most men are contemplating either Sunday lunch or a pint, Paisley and his assistants gather for one of their most important chats of the week.
In the famous Anfield bootroom, where many a plot has been hatched to overcome opponents from all over the globe, the Liverpool manager weighs up the club’s current state of health along with Fagan, Moran, Evans, and youth development officer Tom Saunders.
Paisley is not happy about the way two goals were conceded in the first nine minutes at Brighton. There is nothing formal about the discussion. It is a talk about what went right and what went wrong, a look back and a look ahead to the coming week.
With a star-studded playing staff international demands are a constant worry for the managerial team despite their genuine pride in the achievements of the players.
A problem this week are the international calls for Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness, Avi Cohen and the young Irish duo, Kevin Sheedy and Ronnie Whelan.
“It’s always difficult with players being away, because you are never quite sure how much training they are doing. It’s likely that they will do more training than the others who are here, and that is something we always have to bear in mind.”
Nevertheless, yesterday’s Brighton game occupies much of the discussion. Paisley is anxious to hear how the injured players are coming along. The outlook on his three defenders, Thompson, Hansen and Kennedy, is encouraging.
Before going home for a late Sunday lunch, Paisley has one more important function to perform. Back in his office he brings his famous “black book” up to date, noting details of every player including which team he played for on Saturday, or if he was absent and for what reason.
“It’s amazing how the same problems crop up with the same players year after year,” he says. “The value of these records is that I can refer back and see what action we took in the past and what effect it had.”
Paisley and his aides – the lessons of yesterday assimilated, the target for the week resolved – make their way out of their cars. As they go they joke with Kenny Myers, the maintenance man whose job it is to repair any damage the small crowd at yesterday’s reserve match may have made. There is one door to be repaired, a burst pine to fix. An easy Sunday. But for the groundsmen out on the pitch there is the whole afternoon ahead of them, replacing divits, rolling and spoking the pitch. They are home for Sunday tea.
For one other Liverpool employee this Sunday cannot be a day of rest. Peter Robinson, the general secretary, is hard at work in the lounge of his home preparing the papers and figures for tomorrow’s monthly board meeting. This week the get-away-from-it-all outing with his wife and daughter has had to be abandoned.
Robinson, behind his diffident charm, is very much the Mr. Efficiency. He has the complete trust of his chairman, John Smith.
“The board meeting is one of the few occasions that the chairman actually comes to the club, apart from matches,” explains Robinson.
“The chairman leaves us all to do our respective jobs without interference, and so to the other directors. Matches, board meetings and committee meetings are the only times they come here, to decide on basic policy and monitor what’s being done.
“Our chairman is a very busy man. He’s on the Sports Council, a magistrate, a member of the Football Trust, chairman of the Duke of Edinburgh award industrial scheme and has just finished chairing a national report into British tennis as well as having his own business interests.
“Even so, he rings me every morning to find out if anything has cropped up that needs a decision, and also rings me again in the evening. Though we don’t see much of him, he’s always there when he’s wanted.”
Bob O’Neill has been a Liverpool fan for 62 years. For the last five he’s been showing visitors round Anfield as a full-time expert guide. Today he had a party of some 40 young footballers from Belgium, as well as a group of handicapped children.
“I being the disabled people up in the lift to show them the trophy room,” he says. “Then I take them down again, wheel them round the ground and in through a side-door where there’s a ramp, so they can see the pitch close up.
“With handicapped kids, we usually try to arrange for a player or two to sign autographs and have a chat with them.”
“We get people from all over the world. Only the other day I had a letter of thanks from the Korean ambassador, who came here with his wife and son.
“Last week was an extra busy one – we must have had more than 400 people round in all. When I first came here there were only a few parties, but now it’s become quite a big thing.
“I show them the little clock Brian Clough gave us after Forest had knocked Liverpool out of the European Cup.
“Then there’s the solid gold dagger presented during the visit to Dubai – and a replica of the World Cup commemorating Roger Hunt’s appearance in the final.
“People are also impressed with the three Fair Play trophies Liverpool have won – and with some of the surprise items like the model of an oil drilling-rig presented by Ploiesti of Romania.”
It is a depleted party of players which takes the daily coach trip to the training ground at Melwood, a few miles away in surburban West Derby.
The senior players have a day off, but those who didn’t play at the weekend are in for training.
The apprentices, who work under the direction of youth coach John Bennison, are also in, and this week they are joined for training by a number of youngsters on schoolboy forms with the club who are now on half-term holiday.
The coach leaves at 10 a.m. with Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans in charge. They have already changed into training kit at Anfield.
Joe Fagan takes David Fairclough to see the specialist for an examination of his knee injury. Bob Paisley is busy preparing for the board meeting in the afternoon.
Nina, the ever-cheerful and polite telephonist-cum-receptionist, has been hard at work since 9 a.m. The calls start coming in right away and don’t stop all day.
The only break she gets all week is an hour for lunch and the four lines will be buzzing continually.
Most of the inquiries are about the League Cup final and the Everton “derby” game. And they are from all over the world.
She has a call from Oslo – a travel agent wants to make a block booking of 60 Wembley seats: “People just don’t appreciate how difficult it is to get tickets,” she says.
“It’s even harder to explain to people abroad who can’t speak much English.”
Throughout the week she handles calls from Bulgaria and UEFA, in connection with the European Cup games, as well as the routine calls from the Press and the Football League.
“We get lots of calls from kids wanting the players to attend different functions,” she says. “And we get our fair share of calls from fellows saying: ‘We’ve got a bet on this, can you tell me …” and then ask a detail about who scored a Cup Final goal years ago.
Then there are chaps who ring up saying things like “Will you pass on this tip to Bob Paisley and him to play a 4-4-2 formation …”
This is to be a busy week for Nina. She’s in for the usual hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. But on Wednesday night there’s an England Under-21 international so, like the other girls, she stays until 9:30 and the same on Thursday and Friday, when they are selling tickets until late.
On Saturday, when there is a home match, she is back to a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. day – with not a minute to watch the football!
“The only chance we have to watch is if we travel away to see them play.”
Peter Robinson was in bright and early at 8:45 at the start of what he knew was going to be a testing week. With a domestic international on the Wednesday, a European cup-tie and a League Cup Final in the immediate future, and a local derby with Everton soon afterwards, he knew the club’s small administrative staff were going to find it heavy going.
“European games always take up a tremendous amount of time,” he points out. “Problems are increased if the game is in Eastern Europe, because communications there are generally poor and there is a language difficulty as well.”
For example, Liverpool want to send Tom Saunders to watch Sofia play. Robinson arranges visas, contacts Bulgaria to find when they were playing, book seats on the plane and arrange tickets to be available.
Then he has to go through the whole process again, when he finds they are bringing the game forward.
He also has to arrange to look after the Sofia representatives who are coming to watch Liverpool. He doesn’t know if any of them speak English, and although there is a regular Russian-speaking interpreter available at the Polytechnic, neither he nor the club knew anyone who spoke Bulgarian. Fortunately, in the end, they all speak Russian.
It is lunchtime. The coach rolls back from Melwood. There are not many famous faces for the small cluster of autograph hunters waiting in the car park. The young reserve and youth team players still in their training kit, hurry inside for a bath and a meal.
For Ronnie Moran and Roy Evans there is a little chore that has become a ritual – washing goalkeeper gloves. Moran looks after Ray Clemence’s and Evans does the same for reserve keeper Steve Ogrizovic. As a small sideline they check every boot in the place to see if repairs are needed.
Peter Robinson has very little time for lunch.
The England – Ireland Under-21 game on Wednesday has inflated an already heavy workload, even though the match is not a major event with the general public.
“We have had applications for Press tickets from virtually every paper in Britain,” said Robinson.
“Almost every area has a representative in one side or the other. And of course a game like this, in mid-week and involving some of the country’s finest prospects, attracts an unusually large number of managers and scouts.
“We have to arrange tickets for all of then.”
But Robinson does have time to chuckle over a letter his secretary Miriam Griffiths shows him.
A 16-year-old from Ireland has written to chairman John Smith with advice on how to run the team. “You remember, I wrote before and said it was time to sell Emlyn Hughes,” he says chattily. “A week later, he had gone, so I’m glad you took my advice then …”
Miriam deals with inquiries from all over the world about Liverpool. There are no juniors to do the typing chores, so she operates the duplicating machines. To-day she has run out over 400 letters telling people there no chance of a League Cup Final ticket.
The board meeting starts at 4 p.m. and lasts for three hours.
“Some of the matters were fairly routine,” said Robinson later, but anything to do with the playing side is gone over very carefully. Bob Paisley always attends board meetings, and he gave a monthly report that took in injuries, performances on the field and those players the club have been watching.
“One player was discussed at length, and it was agreed that Tom Saunders and a director should go and watch him the following Saturday.”
The board meeting finally winds up shortly after 7 p.m. – but that didn’t bring a respite for any of the Anfield Troika, chairman Smith, manager Paisley and secretary Robinson.
They go on to a special evening meeting with Liverpool’s sponsors, Hitachi, to discus plans for the League Cup final – and also to have a look ahead to next season.
“Hitachi have just signed a new contract with us,” announces Robinson. “We’re happy to say the least, and we needed to have preliminary talks to discus how both parties can get the most out of it.
“Sponsorship involves a certain amount of advertisement, both round the ground and on shirts, and a certain amount of entertainment, though that is fairly routine procedure for us by now. Sometimes the players are involved too, and then we have to arrange detailed talks with them as well.”
Elsewhere at Anfield, Bert Johnson is quietly satisfied with a very busy day which has seen his staff clean toilets, terraces, café facilities and private rooms.
And John Ledson, painter, working in the maintenance shop under the Kemlyn Road stand has completed all the turnstiles signs for the Wembley tickets sale.
Enter the first-team squad, refreshed after their day off.
Fagan and Moran conduct the first major training session of the week at Melwood, with manager Paisley looking on from the sidelines.
The players do some routine running plus a little ball work. Meanwhile, the Irish Under-21 squad are also working out at Melwood in readiness for the international with England at Anfield. “England also wanted to train here, but the Irish asked first,” said Paisley.
Liverpool like all their players to eat well which is why they provide them with a substantial lunch each day. Top of the pops on the players’ menu is apple pie and custard.
“That is the big favourite,” says catering manageress Mrs. Anne Olsen. “The girl who cooks apple pie really excels. Once she was off, and another girl baked them, and the players noticed at once!”
“Other favourites,” says Anne, “are steak and chicken. Most of the lads have a sweet tooth and they all take sugar with their drinks. It gives them energy.”
Anne and her colleague Phyl McCaldon and Vera Bean, turn up for work in the kitchen at 11 a.m. They serve up a three-course lunch with soup, main course and sweet. In the summer, they will vary the diet, with fresh salads and fruit. Anne and the other girls provide around 80 meals a day.
“I’ve been here nearly 10 years so I’ve got to know all the players,” says Anne. “Some cut out potatoes and just eat meat and veg to watch their weight. Others can eat as much as they like without putting on unwanted weight.
“We find the kids from around 16 eat the most – you just can’t fill them up. That’s because they’re still growing. The others tend to pick and choose what they want.
“But they are very easy people to work with, and, very easy going. It’s a nice place to work. Some days we have a lot of laughs and jokes, and it’s a happy atmosphere.
“We have a different meal every day and it’s basically homely food like soup, steak, chicken, gammon, beef, lamb, fish. The lads helps themselves – it’s not like a formal restaurant in that way. Sometimes they play practical jokes on each other like putting pepper on bread rolls and sugar in the soup when their backs are turned.”
Anne also prepares food for match days, so she will be back at Anfield at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow to prepare snacks – pies, hot savouries, sandwiches – for the directors and guests and the players lounge. There is a team of seven on match days and they work till 10:30 p.m.
And, of course they provide the pots of tea in the players dressing rooms at half-time – big pots containing about four or five pints. “It’s milky, sweet tea to give them energy,” explains Anne.
The reserves have a game at Preston and set off by coach from Anfield at 5 p.m. accompanied by Roy Evans and director Sidney Moss. For Hansen and Alan Kennedy this could be the game which decides if they are fit enough to return to the first team at the weekend.
“It was a bad result because we lost 1-0 – but from the point of view of the two players it went well,” says Roy Evans.
The squad is back at Anfield at 10:30 and after unloading the skip containing the kit it’s straight home.
On the way back from Preston Evans notices how cold the night has become. During the match he was too involved to shiver. Now he wonders what the Anfield pitch will be like for tomorrows international.
Bert Johnson has been two steps ahead of him. Weather forecast frost. Switch on under-soil heating. Adjust temperature on that surface will be perfect. Goodnight.
The flags have arrived for to-nights match! There is an FA flag and FA of Ireland flag and Liverpool’s own flag all beautifully cleaned by Porter Brother’s, the Liverpool firm, the world’s major flagmakers.
The staff are giving Anfield the once-over. Change signs over turnstiles. Cash boxes to be made up, and security boxes prepared for collection and removal of cash.
Arrange trophy room for sponsors dinner – 70 people.
Mark out pitch by ground-staff. Furnal rolling general clean up. Electrical check to ensure everything is working. Run emergency generator at rear of Kop for 1½ hours, so that they an run emergency lighting to evacuate stand – but it won’t work floodlights.
Upstairs Peter Robinson is wrestling with the problems of long-distance negotiations over a player Liverpool have been trying to sign for several months, Canadian based goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar.
“One major problem is the question of a work permit, and though this still hasn’t come through, developments are expected shortly,” says Robinson.
“I suppose I’ve been on the phone for about two to three hours about him in all. I’d gate to say how much time I spend in telephone conversations over a week.”
Meanwhile life goes on for the Liverpool squad at Melwood – a two-hour training stint for the players, including a five-a-side game and a conditions game.
Roy Evans reports that Hansen and Kennedy have come through last night’s reserve game satisfactorily, but defender Alan Harper has taken a knock on the knee and needs treatment.
At 5 p.m. the gatemen, stilemen and stewards arrive to open up for the international, also the police and café people. What has been a nice quiet little place becomes bedlam.
Bert Johnson mans the gate totaliser in his role of Safety Officer, working in conjunction with police. He will check on flow through turnstiles. Each section has its own closing figure an alarm bell sounds when figure is reached and the gate is then closed. Chief Superintendent John Carroll is the policeman usually in attendance. Not that any sections need closing to-night.
The gate was small, the game uneventful but the VIP’s were there in scores, men from all over England. Managers, scouts, pressmen from all over England and Ireland.
The hospitality on these occasions is lavish.
There’s a dinner involving officials of the FA and the FA of Ireland, and another gathering afterwards.
Because it was a match day, Bob O’Neill only showed visitors round Anfield in the morning. The average tour lasts about three quarters of an hour, and takes in the board room, the players lounge and the pitch, as well as the trophy room.
“The part they like most is standing under the sign which reads: “This is Anfield”, says Bob. “It’s amazing how many people have heard of this.”
As ever the groundstaff are the last to leave. They have repaired the pitch and put the under-soil heating back on. It is 11:15 p.m.
Thursday starts with gloomy news for Paisley, Kevin Sheedy has been added to the injured list, and there are reports from Tel Aviv that Kenny Dalglish got a knock on the head in the Israel – Scotland game.
Sheedy is in by 10 a.m. for treatment. It’s clear that he is suffering from damaged ankle ligaments having taken a knock in the Under-21 game last night, but the ankle is still so badly swollen it is hard for Paisley and Fagan to assess the full extent of the injury. Sheedy is downcast. Everything had been going so well.
But at Melwood, Thompson, Hansen and Alan Kennedy are in full training and doing well. At the end of the session all three report for treatment. Not that there is anything to worry about – it is a precautionary move, in Paisley’s words “to disperse the waste products the training has produced.”
At lunchtime Dalglish and Souness report in having travelled south from Glasgow following their flight back from Israel last night. Paisley is relieved to find that Dalglish is none the worse for his knock on the head and he has already had dental treatment for the tooth that was knocked out at the same time. Soon afterwards Avi Cohen arrives back, having flown from Tel Aviv to London. Things look brighter all round.
Jim Kennefick, a personable Irishman who is the club’s liaison and travel expert, is working on a paper he is to present to a meeting of the Football Grounds Improvement Trust meeting next week.
He will, with appropriate modesty, tell them how Liverpool arrange their railway specials so well.
“Liverpool carried more tan 20,000 people last season without incident,” he explains. “I was asked to set out our philosophy, and show how we can help to reduce hooliganism and trouble at away games.”
Every away match Liverpool take at least one train-load of supporters with then. The League Cup final could involve up to a dozen trains to Wembley.
Fares, catering plans and stewarding had all to be tied up, as well as arrangements for selling tickets.
Kennefick goes into every detail with British Rail Officials. Then he meets the senior stewards who will be looking after the League Cup Final trains. Each of them has a full list of duties, and Kennefick always runs through them in detail before an away game … Just in case.
At the same time he is pressing on with plans for the planeload of Liverpool supporters travelling out to Sofia for the second leg of the European tie.
He has already met officials of the Balkans Tourist Office to discuss visas, flight plans and internal travel during the visit, which is attracting about 70 fans at £155 per head.
Downstairs in an office leading off from the corridor in the players’ quarters, Bob Paisley’s secretary Karen is also sorting things out.
There are often boots of laughter when she opens some letters. Not long ago a girl sent 12 pairs of knickers with a request for the players to autograph them all.
To-day there is a letter from a Chelsea supporter, offering to play for Liverpool if they can re-arrange their fixtures to a Friday night. He’s over 40 but reckons he can do a good job for the Reds.
Karen deals with numerous requests for the Anfield boss to make personal appearances, for players to visit sick kids in hospitals, for players to appear in testimonials.
“Some letters are also pretty abusive,” she says. “I put those on one side.”
There are phone calls to deal with, players sometimes pop their heads round the door asking for letters to be typed.
To-day she has even done a bit of sewing – sewing on numbers that had come away from the shirts. “I’m not very good at it,” she smiles.
Karen is the girl who outside Paisley’s circle of aides, knows the big news first – who plays. She is the one who types the team sheets each week and pins them up for players to either smile at or groan at.
To-night there is another important event at Melwood. The club’s schoolboys and amateurs assemble for the regular training session which take place every Thursday and Tuesday under the supervision of Tom Saunders and John Bennison. It is a session full of enthusiasm and dreams, they, too groan or smile when the team sheets go up.
At Anfield ticket selling was going on for he big Liverpool matches – European Cup, League Cup Final and Everton.
“We also had a number of inquiries about the Manchester City game, which should have been played on the Saturday but was postponed due to the League Cup final,” says Robinson.
“At this time of year we get hundreds of letters each morning, and they all have to be opened and answered. I estimate I spend about an hour each morning dealing with mail, which ranges from ticket queries to requests for help from hospitals of handicapped people.
Ticket selling, with all that it implies with security and the handling of large sums of money, continues until 8 p.m. each evening, so it is not until after 10 p.m. that the secretary finally goes home to his family.
“Fortunately my wife is used to all this because I was in football administration when we met,” he says. “Even so it is a bit hard on her, and I also regret I can’t spend nearly as much time as I’d like with my daughter. She’s growing up so fast.
At 8:30 on the dot, four jolly cleaners turn up to put the shine on Anfield.
Irene Brennan, from Childwall, Jenny Davis, of Wavertree Road, May Devine, from Anfield, and Nellie O’Rourke from Bootle, split up and go about their jobs.
Irene, May and Jenny concentrate on the main building and Nellie goes over to the Kemlyn Road stand to clean the canteen and cash office. In the old days the cleaners used to brush the stands as well, but not now. They keep the place spotless every day, but obviously they are at their busiest on match days, before and after.
“We make sure everywhere is spick and span before a match, all down the stairs, the passages, everywhere,” said May.
“We spruce up the dressing-rooms before the match, and the treatment room, the referees’ and trainers’ room, and the players lounge,” added Jenny.
The row of gleaning trophies are also cleaned for everyone to admire, and the pots behind the glass cases are polished every six weeks, unless marked by children’s sticky fingers, in which case they are promptly cleaned afterwards.
May, Irene, and Jenny meets lot of people from all over the world during their day’s work, as they pour into Anfield on tours. All the women are devoted Liverpool fans. May has worked at Anfield for 17 years and Irene and Jenny for 10.
“I came just in time for the FA Cup Final in 1965,” recalls May. “We all like to see the match. On Saturdays we work from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then come back for the game.”
Said Irene: “I came when Kevin Keegan arrived. He was such a nice boy. Well, they are all nice boys – you can’t pick any one out. You have a good laugh with all of them.”
The players are now professionally serious at Melwood. A light training session with all of them looking fit and well. Paisley will at last have a full strength team.
The session is followed by a team meeting at which he stresses the need for Liverpool to revert to their old habits on the field to cut out the sort of mistakes that have cost them dear over the last few weeks.
He hopes the return of Thompson and the other two defenders will bring about a better understanding.
Paisley and his champion team have taken a lot of stick lately. All are aware that their major critics have labelled them as “over the hill,” so the match to-morrow will give them a chance of ramming the words back down the critics’ throats.
With the star players fit again there is an atmosphere of determination and, despite those recent results, an air of confidence. Southampton are coming to-morrow, Kevin Keegan and all. This is the chance to show the football world that Liverpool are alive and kicking. Paisley makes that point in no uncertain terms.
Two points are needed to give a necessary boost to the team for the European Cup match next week. The players are told what is expected of them. The attitude is right. We’ll Show ’em …
Richard Money isn’t in the team and he is not happy about it. He tells Paisley he is disappointed, but it makes no difference. Alan Kennedy has got the vote and Money must wait for his turn to come round again.
Paisley holds his regular Friday Press conference at which he announces the team and answers the questions about the game. Kevin Keegan’s return with Southampton is a lively topic, and Paisley assures him of a warm welcome from his old club.
The players chosen for the match go home after lunch, but will return to Anfield in the evening to board the coach that will take them to their over-night hotel.
The routine is always the same. They arrive at the hotel at 9 p.m.; some of the players have toast and tea before going to their rooms, while others go straight to bed. Fagan and Moran are with the party. Paisley stays in Liverpool.
With match day only 24 hours away, Friday is a day of final preparations. Robinson’s telephone rings almost non-stop all morning with requests for tickets, team news etc., but in between he is busy making arrangements for the forthcoming arrival, on Monday, of the entire Sofia team.
Tickets selling also continues at full blast, with the usual array of problems and queries, and there is also a meeting with sponsorship aide Jim Kennefick to discuss advance travel plans for the League Cup Final at Wembley.
Friday tends to be Kennefick’s day off, and on this occasion, after the talk with Robinson, he goes out to play golf. “I have to snatch what spare time I can get,” he says.
Kennefick is also heavily involved in the souvenir side of Liverpool’s business.
“Scarves, banners, t-shirts, ash-trays and photographs of the players – you name it and we can provide it,” says Kennefick. “This is a growing side of the business – and it’s very much world-wide.
He is also the liaison man for the supporters clubs. “We have about 30 in the UK alone,” he says. “One has just opened in Bermuda, and there is another, producing a 40 page monthly magazine in Denmark.
“The biggest growth area is in Ireland – our Belfast branch have their own premises and have recently competed a £200,000 extension.”
Peggy, the senior office clerk, has been at Anfield since 1965. “I’ve done every Cup Final since then,” she says.
“I’m dealing with the Everton match post to-day,” she says. “We record the money sent for the tickets, whether it’s a cheque or postal order, make a record of the ticket and file it. Then we can supply a duplicate ticket if the fan loses it.
Later in the day she deals with a tearful woman who brings in a season ticket mangled to bits in the washing machine. Peggy sends her home dry-eyed with a duplicate after checking her files.
She sometimes deals with kids who come to her crying on match days because somebody has pinched their ticket out of their hands.
Postal applications can sometimes pose problems. “People send a voucher in for the Everton game and they are supposed to put their name and address on the back, but they don’t,” says Peggy. “Lots of people don’t put stamped addressed envelopes in. Or they send you a letter with a cheque and forget to say what game they want a ticket for. Or post a voucher without the cheque. It all takes time to be sorted out.”
“It can be murder on match days.
“People come up to say they’ve lost their voucher, left their season ticket book at home, or left a friend’s season ticket at home and can’t give the right address.
“They are sent to us from the turnstiles to sort the problem out, There are three of us in the ticket office on match day and we are kept busy all the time, dealing with telephone inquiries as well. People just don’t realise what goes on.”
People also don’t hear about the kind hearts of Peggy and her colleague. When they heard one regular fan, an elderly man, had been ill, they clubbed together to buy him a jumper.
Saturday. The day. The day the week is all about. Today it is Southampton – and Kevin Keegan. The return of K.K. ensures a sell-out of stand seats and much speculation about how he will play.
At 9 a.m. Bert Johnson is inspecting the pitch with Arthur Riley. They decide to step up heating to dry it out after sudden early morning rain. The general preparations for the match go on. Inspection of gates, electrics and safety systems.
Paisley arrives at the ground at 10:30 and has a look at the pitch. It is firm underneath, soft on top. Then he has paperwork to sort out in his office.
Over at the team hotel all is quiet until 11:30. Then Moran checks round to ensure that all is well. By now the players are emerging from their pre-match meal, having had breakfast in their rooms and rested through the morning.
Steak and fish are popular choices for the meal. Most players are creatures of habit and stick to the same menu week after week. Graeme Souness and Ray Kennedy, however, never have anything to eat before a game.
Then it’s back on the coach for the drive to the ground, arriving at Anfield at twenty to two. The crowds are already beginning to build up, while inside the corridors are buzzing with noise and movement.
The gatemen, stewards and police have been there since 12:30. There are 70 people in the sponsor lounge having lunch.
One of the heaters break down in the board room – the other is turned up to maximum. It is a cold day.
Jim Kennefick’s main job is liaising with the sponsors and making sure everything is to their satisfaction. He meets their guests, showing them round the club, taking them to their buffet lunch and answering innumerable questions about the club.
After the game, they will return for more food and drink – and questions – often punctuated by photographs with trophies and/or players, plus the occasional presentation.
But now the players are in their own little world. The kit is laid out in the dressing room, and the usual match-day routine is followed to the letter.
Bob Paisley has a few final words, reminding them of the points they have worked on in training. Then Phil Thompson picks up the ball and leads his team under the “This is Anfield” sign and up the steps on to the pitch. It’s the start of another game.
Keegan runs out at the head of the Southampton team to an appreciative welcome from the crowd. There are a few dissenting voices – a group of spectators in the very heart of the Kop have gone to some trouble to make a series of placards advising the former Anfield hero to go away, or words to that effect. But the vast majority give Keegan the sort of welcome manager Paisley had forecast. And Keegan acknowledges it with a wave of the arm.
Ray Kennedy gives Liverpool an early lead, but Paisley’s satisfaction is marred by an injury to David Johnson, who comes in at half-time nursing a thigh injury.
There is no point in taking a chance on him, and Johnson is told not to go out for the second half. Colin Irwin takes over. Checking on Johnson occupies most of the precious 10 minutes at the break, and in no time the players are making their way out again.
Comparisons between Keegan and Kenny Dalglish, his successor in the No 7 short, are inevitable. And on this particular day they are mostly unflattering to Keegan.
Apart from one or two skillful flicks he contributes little to the Southampton cause. He tries to get involved, but that magical sparkle which he possessed in his Anfield days isn’t there today.
Dalglish, on the other hand, is all balance and subtlety, clearly none the worse for his rough treatment in Tel Aviv.
And although the poker-faced Scotsman fails to get his own name on the score sheet, there’s no doubt that he wins the individual duel with his predecessor hands down. “Dalglish is better than Keegan,” chants the Kop in delight, but there are no hard feelings from Keegan.
Despite the loss of Johnson the second half goes well, Irwin lays on the second goal for Terry McDermott. Victory is assured. Te Reds win 2-0. Keegan’s had a good reception on his return to Liverpool, and manager Lawrie McMenemy comments afterwards: “I’m pleased for Kevin that the crowd gave him a generous welcome. He has had stick round the country and I was hoping he wouldn’t get it here. They didn’t let him down.”
Paisley is on the whole satisfied: “It was a pity the full team couldn’t have played the whole game, but there were signs that we were getting back to normal,” he says.
“Southampton aren’t a had side and they played it cagey. It was essential that we were alert with our own work, and this is what happened. We also regained a lot of confidence, which was another thing I wanted to see.”
Keegan is one of the last players to emerge from the visitors’ dressing room. His first stop is the Anfield boot-room, where he spends half-an-hour talking over the old days with the men who groomed him for stardom.
Later, he speaks gratefully of the way in which the spectators greeted him on his return.
But he stifles his disappointment and tells waiting Pressmen that in his view Liverpool can win the European Cup. Everyone nods and smiles. Liverpool look in better shape. Confidence grows.
Forty one thousands fans make their way home. The views of the fans are that Keegan is over the hill. They are happy with Kenny Dalglish.
Arthur Riley and the groundstaff pick up their pitchforks.
A week is over … another week begins.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: March 14, 1981; via http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) © 2018 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited